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News/Business. A focus on issues facing small business in the United States.

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Boston 5, Anthony 4, Us 4, Michigan 3, New York 3, Oregon 3, Jim 2, United States 2, Portland 2, Pitchathon 2, Tonya 2, J.j. Ramberg 2, Doug Cooper 1, Elizabeth 1, Amy Rosen 1, Beth Goldstein 1, Anthony Carmona 1, Imjealous 1, Education Nation 1, Shalonda 1,
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  MSNBC    Your Business    News/Business. A focus on issues  
   facing small business in the United States.  

    September 29, 2012
    2:30 - 3:00am PDT  

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>> hi, there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg. welcome to "your business." the show dedicated to giving you tips and advice thoeping your small business grow. it is education nation week. we wanted to do our part by looking at the opportunities available to current and future entrepreneurs. our past stories have taken us around the country to detroit and portland, oregon. this year, we didn't have to go any further than boston. there, we found a really unique program, a venture aksel lccele that's run by college students.
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they have the right idea educating entrepreneurs and getting them funding to grow their companies. 22 small business owners. >> our product will be the first organic, low-calorie ready to drink cocktail on the market. >> each one making a pitch for funding. and the most amazing thing. >> we have done a real lot with a real little. >> some of these pictures aren't even out of college yet. >> the marketing is essential. >> this pitchathon is part of a unique program called idea, a business accelerator that is developing new entrepreneurs at northeastern university in boston. >> it is a little bit nerve-racking to get up in front of all those people. every step is bringing me closer to my goal of launching this product. >> idea was born almost three years ago and from the beginning, the emphasis was on empowering students. >> the secret behind idea is a core group of students, 20
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students on the management team, another 20 that are coaching. >> anyone affiliated with the university, from students, faculty and alumni, can bring an idea in and get support. college senior, chris wol ford is idea's student ceo. >> students have complete ownership over the program. we have people volunteering time. we have to say no to people to join the management team. there is a wait list of people wanting to apply. >> this is what makes it special, it is not simply a business incubator. it is a learning lab. they let anyone with an idea join the program. the hope is to get students to examine their business plans while discovering what makes some ideas flourish while others may not. >> it is not just saying, no, it is a bad idea. letting someone figure out it is a bad idea for themselves is going to be valuable in the long-run. >> the result is typically more honest conversations among the 75 active ventures. >> the real learning experience is the student learning from
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another student or coach or someone and saying, maybe this isn't the best idea. i should restart. we have a bunch of ventures that are on their first, second, third, fourth ideas with us because they realized their first concept wasn't good. >> spencer branson says the advice he got in the idea program about topics like law and accounting was invaluable. >> i get to go out and int act with new individuals, people who are so much smarter than me, take me under their wing and help me out. >> with so many free resources available, bramson was able to scale up his company quickly. >> luckily enough, we were profitable after our first six months which gave us the ability to invest in our first product. >> almost no one gets turned away at the door of idea. there is a vetting process when it comes to the level of funding. the pitchathon isn't the only chance for venturers to get money. seven times a year, idea gives
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up to $10,000 of donated fund per business. >> the gap fund is needed to close a gap in their business to get them from point "a" to point "b." >> the most appealing part, the money is free. >> they don't have to pay anything back. there is no i.p. or equity taken. we have funded up to $25,000 per venture. it is a small fit to get them to the next stage. >> matthew has received gap funding. he was very clear about his desires right from the start. >> we need money and we need direct. >> the founder of the lifestyle brand, annie mulz says idea's involvement has been crucial to his business. >> as a student, you are creative and energetic but there may not be the platform to hone your kraft and sharpen the tools you need. >> the grant helped matt open a pop-up shop. >> they gave me a check for
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$10,000 and told me to open the store. the gap funding was tree mendes. >> starielle newman also received money for her venture. >> as a young student, i don't have much in the way of savings that i can pump into a company. the money gone in to putting together the prototype, the design, the website, legal expenses, all these things would have taken much, much longer. >> so far, eight companies that were once a part of idea have graduated from the program and are off and running on their own. >> those are the ventures that have become self-sustaining and some have become service providers for us and others have on tand are in the final processes of obtaining outside funding. >> with that in mind, motivation is high and the ideas for idea just keep on coming. >> you can see in each one of these students what they are going to be like 10, 15, 20 years down the road. they are going to be really successful. part of that success will be
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northeastern gave them a shot at engaging while they were undergraduates. in addition to northeastern, there are many programs at universities and colleges around the nation encouraging the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. let's turn to this week's academic board of directors. jim is the executive director of the rockman institute of entrepreneurial stud dis. beth goldstein is the faculty directory of online graduate program and founder of the marketing edge consulting group and author of the book "lucky by design, navigating your path to success." great to see you guys. jim, you have a book out which we talked about many years ago and now is out. >> lessons from the great recession. >> good luck to you on your books. when i was watching this piece, i suddenly got really jealous of both of you.
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you get to work with these young entrepreneurs who are so excited and have all these ideas and are willing to work and still young and i don't know. i was thinking i want to trade places with you for a minute. >> i agree. i feel like i'm lucky and fortunate to be in the position to work with these young entrepreneurs. at boston university, i have been running our business plan competitions for a number of years. it is amazing to see the seed of an idea really turn into a business. recently, we've actually -- i love what northeastern is doing. obviously, a great program run by the students, which is a great experience. recently, we have added some components to our own competition. it is much more experiential. >> you still have the security of being in school and i know this program works with people out of school as well. you have the security of being
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in school. if students are your target, you have this constant focus group and the resources of colleges like yours. >> it is a great program. we've been doing similar things as well. we've seen this trend of accelerators over the past few years. just three years ago, there may have been tech stars and a few others. now, there is over 500. a great learning experience for students especially. it speeds up the incubation process to three months or less. it is not like a traditional business incubator which could be a year to two or three years. they can find out if their product or service works and learn and refine and pivot and hopefully get investment. even if they don't succeed, they will have learned the entrepreneur process in only three months, which is remarkable. >> there is something that you said that we can all learn from this piece which is, they said plenty of ideas come in. they decide they are not that good. i think one of the biggest problems is people don't take the time to think through, is this a good idea? >> interesting you say, even if
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they don't succeed. i think deciding if it is a no-go is success. you realize, either the idea won't work in its current state or maybe it is a different market that we need to go after but being able to make that decision is a huge win. >> thanks so much, you guys. last year, we told you about an experience for some budding entrepreneurs that was far from ordinary. all of the students are women and they are all convicted felons who are serving time behind bars. at the coffee creek correctional facility in oregon, once a week, you will hear a conversation like that. >> is she cost of goods or is she an expense? how come. >> welcome to life or lifelong information for entrepreneurs. it's a 32-session course teaching female inmates at this minimum security campus how to start and run their own
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companies. >> effective communication involving active listening to understand what others are saying, feeling, and needing. >> even though some of these women have been convicted of crimes like attempted murder, assault and manslaughter, nobody cares about what the students did to get into prison. the focus is what these women will do when they get out. >> i have always liked to run things. i would love to be the owner of a business, rather than the employee. i would love to employ people. >> she is a student of the life class. throughout the term, she and her fellow classmates are learning everything you need to know to launch a company from the ground up. >> we cover the pnl, the balance sheet. we cover skills like communication, effective listening, effective speaking. we cover marketing. the class is built around being able to write a business plan. >> doug cooper is the assistant director of mercycorps northwest
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in portland, oregon. he has been with the life program since it started four years ago. >> people incarcerated were going to come out into an environment where having a felony conviction was going to make it difficult to find jobs. being able to start your own business or be self-employed seemed like a very viable option. >> after having a conviction of manslaughter, i didn't think anybody would want to hire me. so the idea of starting my own business and being my own boss and still being able to make a living was very appealing to me. >> so far, about 100 inmates have completed the course and 5% to 10% of them have started businesses. but actually starting a business right out of prison isn't the goal. creating the confidence so someone could start one is. >> hey, there. >> hey, tonya. good seeing you. >> yeah. >> i felt so hopeless for so many years. i thought, what's the point of going on? nobody is going to want me,
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people are going to judge me, criticize me for the rest of my life. >> tonya was one of the first students to ever take the classes while serving an 8 1/2 year sentence. while she hopes to one day open up her own business, the entrepreneurial program helped her get a job when she was released. she now works at the department store marshalls, where she manages five other people. like tonya, elizabeth huffman says the class has given her a whole new attitude towards life. >> when you come here, you feel like you don't have a whole lot of hopes and dreams. >> that was then. today, elizabeth is working on her first business plan after getting her feet wet with her first idea. >> this is my second time through on a beading company, which i implemented and made a bunch of jewelry and sent it home and actually have made some money to help support myself and to help support my mother too while i'm in here. >> i want to open up prison
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resources and photo print, little small, nothing big, just small to help the women in here, because they may not have family. >> whether she ends up opening that shop or not, time will tell. but for now, shalonda and the other women are taking what they are learning from the life class and turning their lives around. >> i have been most impressed by the women's desire to change and to star a new life and consequently, it feels like we are doing a real service by trying to give them a way for that to happen. >> this is real. this is real. i feel like i can't be stopped. for every budding entrepreneur like the ones we met today, networking and getting your information out there is key to growing your business. here are five ways you can make sure your business card stands out from the rest courtesy of entrepreneur.com. one, include your social media. highlight your facebook page,
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your youtube channel, your twitter handle on the card but only list the ones that are actually relevant to your business. two, be sure to edit. instead of trying to fit as much information as possible, prune ruthlessly. include only the things you find really help you engage with perspective leads. three, skip your home page. your main site may not be the best way to sfapark a conversation. sending prospect to an actual blog or research page may be more effective. be visual. a simple logo can be boring. try using images that are attention grabbing five, link your online and offline world. consider something that sends people directly to a web page. how nifty is helping to turn out some of the country's youngest entrepreneurs. plus, we will have some advice
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for a teacher that wants to start a tutoring business. on every one of our cards there's a date. a reminder... that before this date, we have to exceed expectations. we have to find new ways to help make life easier, more convenient and more rewarding. it's the reason why we don't have costumers. we have members. american express. welcome in. for the last several months, i have been on the phone weekly, oftentimes daily with my 12-year-old nephew talking about the company he is working on
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launching. he is not alone. kids around the country have been bit by the entrepreneurial bug. there is a great organization that is harnessing this excitement and helping teenagers and young adults turn their ideas into reality. amy rosen is the president and ceo for the network for teaching entrepreneurship, better known as nifty. anthony carmona is a graduate and started his own business. great to see you guys. >> likewise. >> i want to share right before amy asked anthony, i hear, you got your driver's permit. >> you started this company long before you could drive. >> i came up with the idea when i was 15. it officially launched when i was 16. >> how much money did you make last year? >> $12,000 total. >> when you brought that home to your family, what did they say? >> everyone was just mind blown. even myself. sometimes i still think about it. i have to sit down and be like, i'm only 17 now. i need to relax.
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i need to breath. everyone was excited. my mom is very emotional. so she started crying like always. like i said, everyone was just really positive about it and really surprised but happy. >> amy, you teach a lot of kids. what is it that makes a 17-year-old who is in school balancing all these other things also able to run a company? >> so it is interesting. we have actually been at this for 25 years and the real opportunity we have now is just to take it to scale. getting young kids to think and act like an entrepreneur is just unleashing what's naturally in many of them. we put kids in school and often we put them in very rigid experiences where they are learning very important information but it doesn't really relate to opportunity. so steve marietta, the founder, did this. he taught in the south bronx and came up with the ideas and thought, if you take kids that are from low opportunity and are
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street smart, they understand delayed gratification and you turn those experiences into a view of opportunity. so we've trained public school teachers. we work all over this country. we are working in 12 other countries and i think anthony took a nifty class in his high school in queens. >> you were 15, right, when you took this class? >> what does your company do exactly? >> it does a multitude of things now. it started as a computer repair/consulting company. the thing was, i wanted to change -- everyone has this idea or this mind-set of computer fixing or computer repair, thinking best buy or geek squad. it is widely known and they advertise very well. i wanted to change that. i didn't want a company look to my company, which is kind of ironic or just crazy but i wanted a family feel to the company. so what my company does is sort of like a friend coming to your house to fix your computers, to solve your problems and save
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your life. >> it is true. i always try and find some young neighbor. they know much better than i do what's going on with my computer. how many kids do you send through this program every year? >> well, we are just coming on to 500,000 kids that have been through it. domestically, in the u.s. this year, we are working on our national competition which will have over -- having had over 20,000 kids that have completed business plans will bring the top 30 to new york october 11th. they will compete. anthony won our new york competition. in new york, where we had been working, we have several,000 kids doing it. it is a full year course in their school. we start by learning about opportunity recognition and that's, i think, when anthony talks about having an idea about what the community needed for his business and he tried it out. we take them all the way through the business plan process and they have a chance to compete. anthony had an opportunity to --
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we work with thousands of volunteers. he talked about his mentor as somebody who is like a second father to him. >> you identify kids and teach them how to be an entrepreneur and connect them with mentors. now, do you have a whole network also of other teenage entrepreneurs that you talk to. >> definitely. it was actually pretty funny too. with a new start-up that nifty started doing last year, start-up summer, which is like a baby incubator type of thing, we found. there was 16 of us. we found in that like the first week, we practically became our own family. we understood each other. you have friends in school and outside of school but these people were on the exact same level that you were. they wanted to do the same things you wanted to do. they wanted to be productive and own businesses. we hang out whenever we have a chance. it is pretty funny. instead of texting each other, we will e-mail each other. how is business? what's going on? when can we meet? >> there is no better testimonial to your program than
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this. what a success story. we wish you the best of luck with all the other kids and you the best of luck with this business. it is really amazing and inspiring. thanks, you guys. >> have a good day. >> thousands of recent col lidge graduates, many armed with business-related degrees, are out there trying to make it on main street. today's elevator pitcher is a recent boston university school of management graduate who has developed a program to help other small business owners. hello. my name is nathan bernard. i'm the founder and director of the boston university urban business accelerator. as you look across the united states, you seatons of small urban businesses that are running on a razor's edge when it comes to cash flow. at the same time, you see numerous university students that are well-educated and eager to get into the communities that surround their campuses. what we've done in an effort to mobilize these two groups is formed the boston university urban business accelerator where we send student neems
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underserved communities to work with the small businesses within them. over the course of ten weeks, they implement quick books for the business owners and use it is a means to compare the business owners against industry averages as well as identify areas within their business for cost savings. what our program needs is $250,000 so that we can launch this program across the united states serving the underserved communities that need it the most. what you will be doing is investing directly into students' education and the economy as each business we works with saves money, retains jobs and creates jobs for the economy that we are all a part of. thank you very much i look forward to our next meeting. >> i like that clothes, nathan. that was good. i knew you were going to be well-spoken. nice job. to you guys who work very much in this field, let's hear how you thought the elevator pitch went. jim? what do you think? >> i think it is a noble effort and i think there is a lot of need out there. i would ask questions about your cost structure, how many businesses will you get through the program and what their
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success rate will be like. those questions are going to be important to answer, especially if it is from investors or if it is from philanthropic folks. >> thank you very much. >> i agree. there are a lot of good points here. i think what's really critical is to look at the roi from different perspectives so you have got almost a student perspective. what are students gaining from this? the educational piece, the experien experience engs learning is huge. >> thank you for all of your advice on this. it is time to answer some of your business questions. jim and beth are here with us once again. the first one is from okay and sticking with our education theme, she writes. i'm a public school teacher of english but want to start a tutoring business. how can i start? >> that's great. she has already got the expertise. now, she needs to think about who her customers are, right? they change from, i'm a teacher. my customers are the kids to now
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she has to think about the parents. what do they care about? what is she really selling? is she selling confidence in doing better at school? is she selling higher score rating? whatever is important that she sells as part of the tutoring needs to be her message. >> do you have any ideas? >> it will be easy to get started. simply use her network, get some students and great testimonials and some of these online matching services. it is so easy to build that business very efficiently and on the side and ultimately, if she wants to be more formal about it, she can develop a business and scale it. right now, it is very easy for her to get started. >> just get a couple clients. get a couple of students, word of mouth. this is the kind of thing where word of mouth really works. parents are chatty-kathys. if something is working for their kids, they are going to tell their friends. >> absolutely. >> next move to the next one. how to educate budding small
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business owners. chris writes, how can we teach kids, specific pli school students, to be entrepreneurs? >> a lemonade stand is a brilliant way to teach it. teach them about, this is how much it costs. this is how much money you are making. here is your profit. here is your revenue. >> i completely agree. i have taken those lessons learned to my own house. my son turned 17 this year. my daughter is 19. they have been running their own businesses for a few years. what i've discovered and what they've discovered is, first, it is really hard. there are a lot of areas, even cash flow in a tiny lemonade stand, is important. they have also learned, my daughter has decided she doesn't like the business she started. it is no the what she wants to do. where my son has now embraced it. in teaching young children from any age, from five to 15 to 18, have them experience it. it is fun to work at the gap or wherever you are working but more important to experience what you think you might want to
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do. >> right. there are great things in the schools that they can do. contests. you can now do things with ebay and garage sales in addition to lemonade stands. experiential is the name of the game. speakers can be brought in to be inspired. >> it is fun too. it is not necessarily they will become entrepreneurs themselves. it gives them a chance to experience it and learn skills that help with all kinds of other things later on. >> jim and beth, imjealous th'mu get to go back and help all these young entrepreneurs. thanks for everything today. if any of you have a question for our experts, go to our website. the address is openforum.com/yourbusiness. there, hit the ask the show link to submit a question for our panel. again, the website is openforum.com/yourbusiness. if you would rather, send us an
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e-mail or your questions and comments. the address is yourbusiness@msnbc.com. with all the internet tools out there, sometimes it is hard to know where to star. if you want to keep yourself and your staff educated on how to get the most out of the web, check out our website of the week. grovo.com is a online education and training platform that helps people find new sites that could help their business. it's library contains over 2000 training tutorials and more than 60 new videos are produced every single week. you can learn about everything from how to use kick starter to how to tweet out information about your latest product. to learn more about today's show, just click on our website. it is openforum.com/yourbusiness. you will find all of today's segments plus web exclusive content with more information to help your business grow. you can also follow us on twitter. it is @msnbcyourbiz.
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next week, erika hall is the owner of a connecticut bed and breakfast. as the sole owner/operator, she does everything, reservations cleaning, book keeping. she feels like she is in a rut. >> sometimes i feel like i'm a hamster in a cage, just running in place and not really getting anywhere, just spinning the wheel and just stuck. >> well, that's all about to change when the your business team comes to her rescue with another amazing small business makeover. until then, i'm j.j. ramberg. remember, we make your business our business. we make a simple thing. a thing that helps you buy other things.
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but plenty of companies do that. so we make something else. we help make life a little easier, more convenient, more rewarding, more entertaining. year after year. it's the reason why we don't have customers. we have members. american express. welcome in. want to show you first the latest swing state polls. mitt romney supporters you might want to look away for this part. in swing state virginia president obama is up by two points. in swing state new hampshire, it's president obama up by five points. in swing state pennsylvania, it's president obama up by seven points. do we still call michigan a swing state? mitt romney supporters you can drop your hands from in front of your eyes here. the latest poll in michigan has mr. obama up by four in michigan. which is a lot less than the 12-point and 14-point leads the